Challenging the Hunger Myths: meet South African women farmers at Melbourne event

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases, News article written on the 29 May 2012

Putting good food on the table can be a challenge for all of us. But for many people around the world, it’s a constant worry just having enough food to feed the family.

For the women of the Western Cape in South Africa, the lack of secure employment and access to land, as well as the impacts of climate change, are making feeding their families increasingly difficult.

As world governments prepare to address issues of sustainable development at the Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development next month, join Oxfam for a conversation with inspiring small-scale women farmers from South Africa to find out how they are overcoming numerous challenges to feed their communities.

The event, Challenging the Hunger Myths: Land Is Life, will be held on Thursday 7 June from 6 – 7.30pm in the Supper Room, Melbourne Town Hall.

The event includes a launch of a photo exhibition, featuring the work of photographer Matthew Willman, documenting the work of the Women on Farms-supported cooperatives in Rawsonville and Ceres, South Africa.

Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett said there were many myths about how the world grew, consumed and distributed food.

“Women feed families and produce most of the food in many developing countries, yet represent more than half of the world’s hungry,” Mr Hewett said.   “By investing in small-scale food producers – particularly women – we can tackle hunger now and into the future.”

Mr Hewett said that around the world, farmers were forming cooperatives to address the particular problems they faced. Women in poor rural regions were learning new agricultural skills that enabled them to grow their way out of poverty.

Oxfam’s partner organisation, Women on Farms, aims to help seasonal and unemployed workers to better feed themselves and their communities and increase their income. The cooperative at Ceres grows gourmet mushrooms, which they sell to commercial outlets.  They are changing their farming techniques to be more sustainable and adapt to a changing climate.

“There are many reasons why one in seven people currently go hungry,” Mr Hewett said.  “In developing countries, food often rots for lack of adequate storage or because poor transport means it is unable to get to the market in time.

“Understanding how 80 per cent of the world’s hungry are also involved in producing food is another step we collectively need to take before we can feed everyone both now and into the future.”

Challenging the Hunger Myths: Land Is Life speakers include Colette Solomon (Deputy Director of Women on Farms Project), Gertruida Baartman (Chair of the Agridynamic Co-Operative) and Andrew Hewett (Oxfam Australia’s Executive Director).


The women farmers also will be speaking at events in Sydney (12 June) and Perth (14 June).  Support Oxfam’s Stop Hunger Appeal – go to


For further information or interviews please contact Laurelle Keough on 0425 701 801 or